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As part of a larger project, I am constructing a language (orromonda) from scratch which will be spoken by a closely humanoid species. I've created some simple literature to get the ball rolling, but I'm concerned that the language seems too artificial. I would like feedback on whether or not the snippets I provide sound like a conceivably natural language. More importantly, I need specific reasons as to why orromonda sounds one way or the other.

If the language comes across as unnatural to you:

  • What specific phonemic changes may be beneficial?
  • What aspects of the grammar or word order are uncanny?
  • How is word construction affecting the flow of the language?

If it sounds fairly natural to you:

  • Are there any noticeable aspects that stand out as not "fitting" in?
  • What specific phonemic and structural aspects make it sound this way to you?

Now I'll quickly break down the language. For ease of typing, I have not used IPA notation; rather, all consonants make the sounds you would expect from English except for j which is pronounced like the /zh/ in "vision". The vowels 'a', 'e', and 'i' are pronounced as short vowels, and 'o', 'u', 'ā', 'ē', and 'ī' are pronounced as long vowels.

Some examples:

Vosa bundath vuf gamadotra Ganimond.

First to board was fine Ganimond.

Note that most adjectives end in '-a' (a few end in '-or'). The verb here is "vuf" whose infinitive is "vith" with an unvoiced /th/.

... vīelen jee trasilīz katāl du ...

... foes who will try to break you ...

In this bit it is seen that the infinitive is not used as expected but that the second verb takes on the same conjugation as the first.

I can provide more information if called for, but my post is already quite long. Thank you in advance :)

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Xandar The Zenon, Frostfyre, bilbo_pingouin, Ieuan Stanley, Separatrix Jan 22 '16 at 9:43

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ I think this might belong more on worldbuilding chat. There is no objective way for you to choose answers, and it is an open-ended question that asks for opinions. (Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it belongs more on chat than here. $\endgroup$ – Xandar The Zenon Jan 22 '16 at 1:45
  • $\begingroup$ What is the background context of these humanoid creatures? Are they evil? $\endgroup$ – AMACB Jan 22 '16 at 2:17
  • $\begingroup$ I would argue that I can remain objective by choosing answers on the basis of their clarity, use of sources, and inclusion of examples from real languages. I also understand your concern; is it not true, however, that I need 20 rep to participate in chat? $\endgroup$ – Alex Clough Jan 22 '16 at 2:19
  • $\begingroup$ @AMACB They are certainly not evil, at least not in an intentional way. Their role in the universe is to provide an ideal of civilization and life while also providing an irony that arises from some historical mistakes they have made as a race. $\endgroup$ – Alex Clough Jan 22 '16 at 2:23
  • $\begingroup$ So something like the elves of Rivendell from LOTR? $\endgroup$ – AMACB Jan 22 '16 at 2:35
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This is Pretty Good.

Some of those words are actual words in other languages. For instance "du" means "you" (well thee or thou) in German. I suppose none of this seems super odd. I think it has to do with the syllable structure and the Indo-European-ess of it all.

Syllable Structure

Yes, syllables have structure. In short, syllables have the onset and the rhyme, which is often divided into the nucleus and the coda. The onset and coda are usually one or two consonants, and the nucleus is usually the vowel. It seems you have mostly C-V syllables, which people tend to be able to speak really easily. (Especially in Japanese, which seems to be almost exclusively made of C-V syllables!)

Sentence Structure

While we have only a sample of 2-ish sentences, it seems the grammar structure is similar to that of many Indo-European languages. There are verbs after all, and they come second-ish in sentences, like in English/German

So really, you're making a conlang which follows a lot of indo-european trends. No reason why this shouldn't feel natural enough.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the info! I had included a bit of a German look intentionally, but wasn't sure what group it had ended up sounding like. Do you have any ideas as to how I might get a little more deviation from the "humanesque" feel? $\endgroup$ – Alex Clough Jan 22 '16 at 2:35
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    $\begingroup$ @AlexClough Well, the best way to get rid of "humanesque" feel is to introduce sounds humans can't make. How do you represent this sound using a roman alphabet (or any human alphabet)? I don't know that. It may be enough just to merely have this language. $\endgroup$ – PipperChip Jan 22 '16 at 2:41
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    $\begingroup$ I guess I didn't mention in the OP that I would prefer human-pronounceable structure, but I guess that's rather contradictory of me! $\endgroup$ – Alex Clough Jan 22 '16 at 2:46
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Human natural languages change according to various well known "laws". Generally speaking words become shorter and simpler to say over time (i.e. generations), and pronunciation shifts generally follow this rule as well.

These laws have allowed linguists to determine patterns of languages, sort languages into related families and then trace languages back to ancestral forms. In the case of the Indo European language family, this has allowed the reconstruction of "Proto Indo European" (P.I.E.) to the extent that we can infer a lot of their society by what words they used, and even tell simple stories in P.I.E.

Going the other way, whatever your language started out with, words will gradually shift to become easier to pronounce. As well, the syntax and structure will become modified as people do new things which the language wasn't initially designed to describe or explain.

Atomic Rockets has this to say:

Basically, the problem is that such a language can exist as a scholarly language, but as soon as people (even the scholars that are already using it as a scholarly language) start speaking it in everyday life, the logicality of the language goes down the drain. The human brain has the tendency to mercilessly hack away from any sentence whatever information is not needed. If we know that the only material in the area that could be used for making blowguns is bamboo, we are unlikely to specify that bamboo was used in the manufacture of a given blowgun, no matter how much our Lobjan teachers scream in frustration.

http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/futurelang.php

If you understand Latin, you can also see how classical latin devolved into "Church Latin" and eventually the Romance Languages like French and Spanish. Or you can try this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIAdHEwiAy8

Now write that out 100 times!

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